It started with the priest dying.
Pam was okay with it, really she was. Of course, she felt terrible for the priest and his family. But it was life, things happened. Nothing ever went perfectly according to plan. Her whole prolonged engagement to Roy was a testimony to that.
If things had gone the way she planned, they would have been married years ago. Michael would have never had the opportunity to hand her the longest engagement Dundie year after damn year.
So yeah, she was content to write it off as just one of those unavoidable things. What she should have thought - in retrospect, was that when the universe gives you a sign like that, you’re supposed to listen…
If only Pam had come to that conclusion then. But, she hadn’t.
It should have ended with the priest dying. But, it didn’t.
There was no undoing the past.
She’d written the uneasy feeling off as nerves, because pre wedding nerves were totally normal, right?
And then she’d done the logical thing. She’d squashed that unsettled feeling deep, deep down and frantically phoned around for a replacement priest.
She’d found one. Just like that. Crisis averted. Sure, Father Thomas expelled fine droplets of spittle every time he spoke. But that was the price you paid for finding a backup priest at the very last moment.
There were still two weeks until the wedding. She’d just warn Roy to step back a little and all would be well.
It would be fine.
It was all going to be fine.
She repeated the mantra, over and over again, until the words lost all meaning.
She’d almost believed it. She was starting to feel calm-ish about her impending nuptials.
That was until the venue called. One week out.
“Miss Beesly,” the voice on the other end of the line enquired.
“Yes,” she murmured.
“It’s the VA hall. We’re sorry to tell you that we had a small fire last night.”
“Oh,” Pam gasped.
“We’re happy to accommodate your wedding reception in our gymnasium building instead.”
And that was that. What else was she supposed to say other than, “that sounds fine,” in a timid voice.
It didn’t really matter that it wasn’t as nice. The wedding wasn’t about the venue, was it? It was about the people.
Except the VA Hall had been their cheaper, tackier option to begin with. Pam had already felt as if she’d settled with the VA Hall as their choice. Hell, even Kelly had stuck her nose up at it weeks ago, when the invitations had come out.
She could only imagine what Kelly would have to say about a battered gymnasium. It was prom. Her wedding was essentially being reduced to prom.
That was...something. After she swallowed down the knot forming in her throat, she thought that maybe it wasn’t so terrible. She and Roy had met in high school and now their wedding was set to inadvertently have a high school theme. Maybe just maybe people would think it was deliberate, and find it endearing and sweet.
It was fine.
One day they would look back and laugh about all these moments. It wasn’t about the wedding, it was about the marriage. Her and Roy were practically married already. It was just a party.
She shut down the little voice that whispered that if she and Roy were basically already married and this was the best it ever got, well…
Nope. She didn’t need to be thinking like that.
Roy was her past, he was her present, and most importantly he was her future. That was that. She was going to marry him.
She was resolute.
The days to her wedding trickled away without any other flashing signs of impending disaster. Then it was here. Her wedding day.
Isabel and her hairdresser friend helped her get ready.
She watched the clock on the wall countdown.
Every breath was a conscious thought. She felt as if she stopped thinking about it, and instructing her lungs to draw in and out that they would cease to do so.
The seconds ticked by. In. Out. In. Out.
Isabel brushed foundation over her skin with practiced skill. The hairdresser friend - she had mentioned her name, but it wasn’t sticking in Pam’s memory at present; all her mental energy was devoted to her careful inhaling and exhaling - was working Pam’s mess of tangled bed hair into soft curls.
With half an hour left before the service was due to start, Pam was feeling jittery. Her mother and sister were supposed to be here already.
Isabel called Penny’s cell. Her murmured whispers and thinly veiled looks to Pam told her everything she needed to know.
“Isabel,” Pam sighed and stretched out her hand for the cell.
“We’re sorry, Pam!” her sister placated desperately. “We were running a tiny bit late and then mom took a wrong turn. You know how she is with directions. And then there was roadworks. We’re coming, we just…”
“You’re late,” Pam wailed rather dramatically for her.
“I’m sorry. We’re hurrying. I promise.”
“Okay. Please,” she whispered, bottom lip worried between her teeth as she chewed nervously on it. “I can’t do this without you both.”
“We’ll be there,” Penny promised. “See you soon.”
“Okay,” fell from her lips as she hung up the cell and shared a nervous half-smile with Isabel.
“Your sister,” Isabel sighed.
“I know,” Pam tried to find the humor. “A master of time she is not.”
“You think she could have pulled it together today.”
“I’m glad you’re here, Is,” her smile was wan.
Isabel reached forward and tangled her fingers with Pam’s, offering a comforting squeeze. Together they eyed the clock.
A few more minutes passed and Pam shook her head.
“Help me get the dress on?” she asked weakly.
Isabel complied. Pam looked herself up and down in the mirror.
This was it. This was the most beautiful she would ever look, or something like that.
Her eyes welled with tears.
She watched the tears start to track down her face. The expression on her face pure panic.
“Oh no, don’t cry yet,” Isabel pleaded. “I’ll have to redo your makeup.”
“I can’t get married without my mom,” and she started to sob in earnest.
“She’ll be here,” Isabel soothed, her hand rubbing against Pam’s back. “She’ll be here.”
“The ceremony starts in five minutes,” she sniffled.
“She’ll be here,” Isabel repeated, but some of the certainty leaked from her tone.
Pam forgot to instruct herself to breathe. “I can’t,” she gasped between shaky sobs. “I can’t.”
“I,” and she was close to hyperventilating now. “I -”
“Shh, shh. Breathe Pam.”
“I can’t,” she wept. “I can’t.”
Isabel eyed her carefully. “This isn’t just about your mom, is it?”
“The-universe-thinks-it’s-a-terrible-idea-and-I-think-I-agree,” rushed out of her in a jumble.
“It’s not too late, Pam. You can still call this thing off if you want.”
She didn’t need anyone’s permission, but Isabel essentially granting it to her was the straw that broke the camel's back.
Her breathing started to settle, her sobs started to subside.
“You’re right. It’s not too late.”
And that was that. She could call the wedding off.
She did call the wedding off.
She mumbled about the priest dying whilst Roy gaped at her. When he started thundering and smashed a glass beer bottle onto the floor, she took that as her cue to leave. “It’s over, Roy,” she declared with finality.
She packed a bag.
She drove around in circles for a bit. Isabel had invited her to stay. She just wanted a moment or two to process.
She was a strange mixture of shell shocked and utterly relieved.
Weirdly, all she wanted to do was draw. She needed to somehow make some sense of the chaos. And that was how she found herself on the rooftop at Dunder Mifflin, sketchbook in hand.
Her outfit wasn’t the most practical for a rooftop in winter. She was still in her wedding dress, wrapped in her thickest coat, with her sneakers on.
She shivered and vowed not to stay for too long. Just long enough to trace the outline of the Scranton skyline.
She was too in the zone to hear the clattering on the ladder.
“Oh,” a shocked gasp floated over to her.
She whipped her gaze to the doorway. “Oh,” she answered. “Jim,” a delighted smile crept over her face.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in Australia?”
He grinned a crooked grin, his cheeks pinkened by the rush of cold air. “My flight was delayed. It doesn’t leave until tomorrow now.”
Pam patted the lawn chair beside her. “I didn’t get married.”
“I know. Phyliss called me,” there were those pink cheeks again. If she didn’t know better, she’d think there was some blush underneath his response to the elements.
“Why didn’t you get married?” There was a hesitance to his tone, like he was holding something back.
“The universe didn’t want me to,” she answered like it made all the sense in the world.
“Okay,” Jim nodded as if he got it. A kindness considering she sounded like a crazy person, living her life to the whims of the universe all of a sudden.
“How did you find me?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. Phyliss told me the wedding was off and I thought maybe you could use a friend.”
“I could use a friend,” she smiled softly.
His lips quirked upwards in the making of a grin. “I’m here for you, Beesly. Anything you need.”
She reached out tentative fingers and gave his a little squeeze in thanks. A shiver coursed through her, that she suspected had little to do with the cold. Huh. That was another thing she was done with ignoring.
“How did you know I was here?” she repeated.
He was definitely blushing. “It’s a long story, but I was putting some stuff back into my desk and then I was going to go looking for you. I figured you would be at your parents. I saw that the hatch to the roof was open and felt like I should probably check what was going on…”
“...and you found me,” she breathed.
“Yep,” he crooked a smile at her. “Quite the coincidence.”
“Yeah, yeah. You could say that.”
Something unfurled in her chest. It felt a lot like calm. Finally the universe was handing her a good sign.
It started with meeting Jim on the rooftop.